I’m speaking at WebVisions on “Managing Multiple Bloggers in WordPress” on Thursday, May 26, 2011, at 11:30AM in Portland, Oregon. The following is part of a series of articles on the topic and notes from my presentation.
Growing up with print media, my family couldn’t get enough of Gary Larson’s The Far Side cartoon strip to give us an enlightened giggle in the local paper. We’d race to see who could get to the paper first. We also had our favorite columnists, such as Emmett Watson who encouraged my enthusiasm for all things historical Seattle and taught me a lot about the narrative story. When we moved to Israel, Sam Orbaum of the Jerusalem Post was required comedic reading every Friday without fail, and pretty much the only time we bought the newspaper. Today, many of us still have favorite columnists, online and off, and now bloggers have joined those ranks, people that we’ve come to know through their writing, podcasts, or videos that keep us coming back for more.
The wise editors and managers of those publications knew that good columnists understand how to create a relationship with their readers, encouraging them to return, almost as an addiction. When Sam Orbaum died, my husband and I would walk by the stack of newspapers at our local store, reach out, then change our minds. For us, not spending a Friday laughing with the amazing humorous perspective of Orbaum was part of our grieving process. A few months later the Jerusalem Post returned to our home on Fridays, but even with Caroline Glick tickling our funny bones, it wasn’t the same. Design your site and choose your authors accordingly, and that kind of loyalty is a gold mind.
If you treat your regular contributors as columnists instead of “guests,” you may increase the number of repeat visitors to your site who “tune in” for more from their favorite, too.
How to Showcase Your Authors
In part one of this series, How to Manage Multiple Bloggers on WordPress, I explained that you have two key things to keep in mind as you go forward with developing and managing multiple bloggers, you must help your authors help themselves, making the process easier for them, and help your readers have easy and full access to your author’s content.
In order to service this agenda, this brings us to the first two questions you need to answer:
- What is most important to your authors?
- What is most important to your readers?
Readers only want information, a so called expert in SEO and web development told me. While it is true that readers (visitors) arrive with questions and want answers now, true readers, the fans, the “returns” not the “uniques,” those who not only come back for more but bring their friends, for these folks, you need to provide more.
As we go through this series, I’ll point examples of how you can service your reader’s needs, but for now, let’s focus on serving the needs of the authors, the folks giving of their time and energy to produce content for less than it’s true value.
When it comes to web design and development for a multiple blogger blog, the designer and developer must answer the question of how to make design and development choices to benefit the authors in line with the subject matter, design structure and framework, and intentions of the site owners and managers. Some authors have very specific wants and needs before they will agree to contribute to your site. Such terms need to be met with a writer’s contract or agreement before beginning the contribution process.
In general, the author wants three things.
- Income opportunities
- Communication and Interaction
Income opportunities consist of ways to help the contributors earn money in addition to what you pay them. This may include helping them publish, promote and distribute printed books or ebooks, sponsoring public appearances and events for the author’s involvement, buying ad space on other sites to promote the author, and other financial incentives that reward and encourage the author.
Ad revenue sharing might be one of those incentives, with help from WordPress Plugins such as the Author Advertising Plugin, Adsense Revenue Sharing, or WordPress Multiple Author Ad management Plugin to make the process as automatic as possible, saving you time and energy.
Communication, or the lack thereof, is a huge killer of team sites, and I’ll spend more time in a future article talking about all the ways you get remove the interference from various communication issues with WordPress to improve the performance of your authors as well as the site in general.
In this article, I want to focus on author recognition, helping the author to enhance their reputation and expertise as a contributor to your site through WordPress author features and more.
Let’s face it, blogging income sucks, and blogging for pay on a multiple blog site can increase a blogger’s income, but it rarely pays the mortgage. So why do it?
For the recognition, exposure, and reputation it provides. In today’s web publishing industry, these equal cash and high ROI in many people’s mind, which is why guest blogging is such big business right now. The greater the exposure and coverage, the better the brand recognition increases and the more trustworthy and valuable links coming into author sites, acting like tiny letters of recommendations.
As a developer, understand that the more visible the contributor is on the site and the more exposure they get through the site’s social media and promotional activities, the more likely they are to work harder for less money, which is unfortunate as these are the people you want to pay the most. When you can, please do so as they deserve it. However, fair play is not part of our discussion. They key is that multiple contributors give you the the benefit of their exposure by building up your site’s brand recognition, exposure, and reputation. In today’s web publishing industry, compensation is measured in promotion and exposure more than skill and experience.
So how do you provide the recognition and attention the author needs on your site, and how might that influence your design and structure decisions? Let’s look at the basic author elements in WordPress first.
The easiest and most often over-looked credit a contributor wants is a byline. That small name in a link below the title of an article can do a lot for the ego.
In the days of print, a byline meant something. For writers with an inherent glass ceiling with no where to go but to the keyboard, a byline was not just a reward for outstanding journalism and writing, in some publications, it was better than a raise or step up the ladder. It meant you made it! You could really call yourself a writer, reporter, or whatever title you wanted.
With so many WordPress Themes removing the byline and author credit, assuming only one person is behind the blog, make sure you choose or create a Theme with the byline restored. It can sit above or below the post title or be highlighted in a variety of ways. Just make sure it’s there to give the contributor the respect they deserve.
Where that links takes the reader is also important. Does it take the reader off the site to the author’s “home” site? Or does it link to an author page featuring all the posts they’ve published on the site, a bio, and links to all of their sites and social web spots? Let’s hope you picked the latter.
If you work with multiple authors who team up on articles, consider adding the Co-Authors, Co-Authors Plus, or WT Co-authors WordPress Plugins to manage articles with more than one author. Most of these Plugins make it easy to list each author with a link to their author page in the byline as well as add their author bios to the page and the post to their individual author feeds, increasing their exposure on the site.
If you work with guest bloggers which you don’t want to offer direct access to your site, consider the Custom Author Byline WordPress Plugin. This Plugin allows you to add authors not registered directly with the site to post bylines, as the sole or team contributor.
Author pages are the most valuable page on a site to the author. It’s their place to shine and show off. It’s a place on your site they can point to and say, “Lookee, I’m famous! I did this.” It’s a record of all of the content they published on your site.
I wrote for the Blog Herald for many years, totaling 547 articles which you can still access through my author page on the Blog Herald. Even now, the legacy remains, which is what you want for your authors, a timeless way they can still stay connected and benefit from their content on your site, and you can benefit from their legacy as well.
At a minimum, an author page should have the author’s name in the title, a bio, photograph/gravatar, and the archive of their posts. By default, WordPress displays the author’s name as the title and the archives, and the author bio must be added. Some author pages feature Twitter streams, post comments, number of posts published, number of comments on all those posts, Twitter streams about those posts, post trackbacks, and more.
I’ll discuss how to use WordPress Plugins and code to customize an author’s page in a future post in this series.
There are guest bloggers and then there are contributors. A guest blogger is a one or two off contributor, not really part of the team. A real contributor wants more than a byline. They want to feel included. They want to feel special. They want to feel like they are part of the team. Put them on a contributor’s list.
Contributor or Author Lists can be featured on their own page, in the sidebar, in the footer, or from a link in a prominent spot to a page. Contributor lists can offer just a list of names, or names and descriptions or categories, or full bio information with photograph or gravatars.
Creating a contributor’s list can be done manually through a custom Page on the site or a list in the sidebar or footer, or generated automatically with a WordPress Plugin.
I’ll spend more time on customizing and using author lists on your site, but for now, consider investigating these WordPress Plugins:
- Author Information Widget
- Author Complete Post List
- List Authors Widget
- Level10 Blog Matrix
- Officers Directory Plugin
- Author Grid WordPress Plugin
- Gravatar Plugin for Multiple Authors
- Author Avatars List WordPress Plugin
As well as good boosts to contributor’s egos, contributor lists help readers find the experts they know and trust on your site.
Visibility Within the Site
There are a variety of ways to honor and promote an author from within the site increasing the authors’ visibility. Here are some quick ideas, and I’ll be covering a lot more as the series progresses.
- Feature post on the front page with byline.
- Feature post in the sidebar.
- Bio at the bottom of their posts.
- Picture at the top or bottom of their posts.
- “Ads” for their “column” in the sidebar or other ad spaces.
- Author feed links promoted.
- Integration of their Twitter stream into the site’s published stream, often found in the sidebar.
- A profile article on the author.
- An interview with the author.
- Helping the author get interviewed and features on other sites.
- Announcements about author events, activities, or milestones.
The more visible the contributor is within your site’s architecture and design, the more helpful you are to the author as well as the reader.
Visibility within the Site’s Social Media and Promotion
Through manual methods or automated, help the author promote themselves and their posts by posting to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. The more you help promote the work the author is doing on your site, the more willing they are to promote your site, and their articles.
Consider how you can integrate them into your overall marketing strategies. Integrate them into your site’s Twitter stream with a WordPress Plugin that tracks multiple Twitter accounts and highlight them in the sidebar. Tweet Blender WordPress Plugin and RSSImport WordPress Plugin are perfect for this, and I’ll explain more about how to integrate them into your WordPress multiple blogger blog in an upcoming article in this series.
This is just the tip of the ice berg in all the possibilities you can use to help promote the authors on your site. The more you include them in your site’s promotion and marketing strategies, the more you honor their contributions, the more willing they are to not just play nice but the more they will feel like they are a part of something special.
I’ve been exploring just a few ways to make an author more visible on your multiple contributor site, and coming up, I’m going to cover content management in WordPress and off-site, communication and editorial staff management with WordPress Plugins, more design elements and examples, and a lot more WordPress Plugins and code to help you manage and design your WordPress site.
Article Series on Managing Multiple Authors in WordPress
- WebVisions: Managing Multiple Bloggers in WordPress
- How to Manage Multiple Bloggers on WordPress
- Managing Multiple Authors: Showcasing the Authors
- Managing Multiple Bloggers: Author Content Management on WordPress
- Managing Multiple Authors: Customizing the WordPress Author Page
- Managing Multiple Authors: Customizing the Author Bio Box
- Managing Multiple Authors: Author Lists in WordPress